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The Grove at Connell Center - Berkeley Heights, NJ
Landscape Architecture by Melillo + Bauer Associates, Inc.


Connell Corporate Park in Berkeley Heights, N.J., retained Melillo + Bauer Associates, Inc. of Brielle, N.J. to create the 2-acre Grove Park. The plaza boasts a sculptural granite water fountain and amphitheater above the northern perimeter of Connell Plaza. Each 'Charcoal Black' granite block was custom cut to achieve the desired irregular waterfalls. Water volume flow can be adjusted from high to low flow.

The Connell Real Estate and Development Company had an idea to transform Connell Center Corporate Park in Berkeley Heights, N.J., into a pedestrian-friendly campus with multiple recreational experiences and environments. Connell Center was expanding. A new hotel was in the works, and there were plans for residential development to create an active mixed-use campus.

Melillo + Bauer Associates, Inc. Landscape Architecture was retained to create a dramatic vision for a multifunctional park space that would form the nexus of pedestrian circulation. The Grove was envisioned as a place that would offer outdoor workspaces and social and event spaces to address the modern workforce and new mixed-use nature of Connell Center.


Granite steps lead up from Connell Plaza to an upper terrace of 'Plankstone' pavers with brick accents, a custom laminated wood pergola, ipe benches and a perforated steel 'El Poeta' bench.

The Grove is now a lushly landscaped, two-acre park at the heart of Connell Center. The site for The Grove was to be at the geographic center of Connell Center on a sloping site overlooking the Green Brook Stream corridor. Melillo + Bauer Associates addressed the transition from the steeply sloping upper portion of the site to the lower flatter section by creating various nodes connected by 'The Ribbon' - a sinuous, accessible walking path.

The Ribbon links the adjacent 200 Connell Drive office building entry with Connell Plaza at the lower end of The Grove. Along The Ribbon are several multi-level seating nodes that include broad sitting steps, movable furniture and outdoor workstations. Charging stations, both solar and powered, are located throughout the park, and Wi-Fi access allows employees to be productive in these exterior workspaces. Food trucks are parked at the edge of The Ribbon. A terrace above the main plaza is a convenient spot for al fresco dining, social interactions and informal meetings. The dining node also includes foosball and ping pong tables. The dining and diversions make the terrace a hive of activity during lunchtimes.


Connell Plaza has a central hardscape of 'Prest' pavers with radiating granite bands. Like the upper terrace, the pavers are accented with bands of brick and plank pavers. The southern edge of the plaza is defined by a low retaining walls, theatrical lighting ('Olivio Medio' LED luminaires), zelkova trees and chess and backgammon game tables.

The Ribbon plantings evoke a serene wooded landscape. The intimate seating nodes provide an alternative spatial experience from the open plaza and lawn below.

Connell Plaza, the main park feature, sits at the center of the lower portion of the site at the end of The Ribbon. The main plaza feature is an interactive, sculptural granite water fountain and amphitheater that embraces Connell Plaza's northern perimeter. During the warm weather months, the central area of the sculptural granite plaza becomes a series of cascading waterfalls, flanked by sitting steps to either side. The rush of water lends a pleasing acoustic element to the space. Once the water is turned off, the entire length of the feature becomes an amphitheater available for expanded seating, all with a southern solar orientation. The broad circular plaza provides ample room for events, gatherings and diverse performances. Along the southern edge of Connell Plaza, a low wall with custom bench seating creates more intimate gathering spaces at the fringe of the plaza. Chess and backgammon tables, along with additional workstations, allow employees to escape their desks and glare of their computer screens for a time.


The Grove, envisioned as a landscaped park setting that also included outdoor workspaces, is on a sloping site overlooking the Green Brook Stream corridor. The transition from the steeply sloping upper portion of the site to the lower flatter section was addressed by terraces and connecting the nodes by a sinuous accessible promenade.

Above the fountain is an overlook terrace shaded by a custom designed trellis. Workstation benches and picnic tables provide vantage points from which to overlook the fountain, plaza, open lawn and vistas to the Green Brook Stream. A sweeping promenade frames the expansive lawn panel and provides an accessible connection from Connell Plaza to the Connell Trail. A meandering walkway at the southern edge of the lawn is the initial portion of the Connell Trail. Phase 2 is currently under construction and also designed by Melillo + Bauer Associates. Connell Trail will include fitness equipment stations along its approximately 2 mile path. Larger nodes and gathering spaces along the trail will follow in phase 3. With its vast array of amenities The Grove now offers opportunities to experience the corporate campus in new ways. As the campus continues to expand and transition to a mixed-use community, The Grove will continue to be a pivotal gathering and event space for employees, residents and visitors.

As seen in LASN magazine, February 2018.

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